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Pumi Dog

Nicole Cosgrove

June 18, 2021


The Pumi is a small to medium sized purebred from Hungary, bred to be a farm dog helping with herding and driving cattle, sheep and other animals and to hunt small animals like rodents and larger ones like boar. It is thought its name comes from a blend of the names of the Mudi and Puli however until recently the names Puli and Pumi were used mistakenly interchangeably. It is also known as the Hungarian Pumi and the Hungarian Herding Terrier though in fact it is not a terrier, it just has terrier traits such as alertness, drive and quickness. It does well in a variety of working roles and as a show dog, on a farm still but also in agility and obedience trials, freestyle dog dancing, drug detection and search and rescue.

The Pumi at A Glance
Name Pumi (pumik is plural form)
Other names Hungarian Pumi, Hungarian Herding Terrier
Nicknames None
Origin Hungary
Average size Small to medium
Average weight 18 to 33 pounds
Average height 15 to 19 inches
Life span 12 to 13 years
Coat type Long, shaggy, wavy, curly, double, dense
Hypoallergenic No
Color Silver, grey, black
Popularity Not yet ranked by the AKC
Intelligence Quite intelligent – above average
Tolerance to heat Good but not anything too hot
Tolerance to cold Very good – just not extreme cold
Shedding Average – will be some hair around the home
Drooling Low – not a breed prone to slobber or drool
Obesity Average – regular exercise and measuring food can control it
Grooming/brushing Moderate to high – brush regularly
Barking Frequent – will need training to control
Exercise needs Fairly active – needs daily walks and play
Trainability Easy to train
Friendliness Very good with socialization
Good first dog Good but best with someone with experience
Good family pet Very good with socialization
Good with children Very Good but need socialization
Good with other dogs Good with socialization
Good with other pets Good but need socialization – can have high prey drive
Good with strangers Moderate to good – socialization is needed
Good apartment dog Good – can live in an apartment with daily exercise but bark a lot
Handles alone time well Moderate – does not like to be left alone for long periods
Health issues Quite healthy – can be prone to a few issues such as hip dysplasia, eye problems and patellar luxation
Medical expenses $460 a year for basic health care and pet insurance
Food expenses $145 a year for a good quality dry dog food and treats
Miscellaneous expenses $525 a year for license, basic training, miscellaneous items, toys and grooming
Average annual expenses $1130 as a starting figure
Cost to purchase $1,500
Rescue organizations Several including Hungarian Pumi Club of America, inc Rescue
Biting Statistics None reported

The Pumi’s Beginnings

The Pumi’s ancestors come from thousands of years ago when the Magyars brought them to Hungary however it itself is about 300 or so years old. Its history is the same as the Pulis up to sometimes in the late 1600s and early 1700s when breed brought from elsewhere in Europe like the German Spitz and the French Briard were crossed with some Puli. These crossings led to a dog that was versatile, intelligent, small but driven. It was used to work with livestock like cows, herding and driving and was a great watch and guard dog. It was also used to hunt with, clear the farm of rodents and as a companion. It lost the forming of cords in its coat like the Puli has though.

Despite the difference in coat into the early 1900s the Pumi and Puli were often mixed up despite the Puli being more prevalent in the plains of easy Hungary and the Pumi being based in western Hungary’s hills. A breeder in Hungary saw the need for a better distinction between the two and that standards and breed definitions were needed. Using a selective breeding program along with other dedicated breeders Dr Raitsits in 1921 showed there was enough difference between the Pumi and Puli for them to be declared separate breeds. By 1923 in the show rings in Hungary there were shown separately. There also came a division in how the dogs were viewed with the Pumi being used more as a versatile working breed and the Puli being more of a show and companion dog. There was also a third herding dog identified, the Mudi from the south of Hungary.

New Lease on Life

The Pumi’s standard was accepted by the FCI in 1935 and it was a popular companion and working dog in Hungary for much of the early 20th century. In the 1960s it got a wider attention from the rest of the world when the FCI gave it recognition. In the seventies and eighties it spread to different European countries like Sweden and Finland and by the 199os in the US too. In 2005 the Hungarian Pumi Club of America was started and in was fully recognized by the AKC in 2016. While its numbers are established in these places it is still in small numbers and remains more popular in Hungary.

The Dog You See Today

The Pumi is a small to medium sized dog weighing 18 to 33 pounds and standing 15 to 19 inches tall. It has a long tail that is feathered and held high when it is happy. Its chest is deep and it has strong compact hind feet. Its body is muscular and lean and it is square in shape. It looks a bit larger than it really is because of its thick curly coat. The coat is medium-length, double and forms corkscrew curls. The top coat is wiry and harsh and the under is soft. It has a shaggy look to it. Typically it is grey in color and that is the preferred color for show Pumik, though it is possible for other colors such as brown, fawn, white and black. Usually puppies are born black and then the coat fades to a grey shade as it matures.

It has a long head and long narrow muzzle. The muzzle should be half the length of the head about. Its eyes are medium sized, set deep and are dark. Its ears make quite an impact on its appearance, they are set high, pricked up and large. They are also covered in hair that is longer than elsewhere and they bend over just at the tip.

The Inner Pumi


The Pumi is an intelligent and alert dog. It will bark to alert you of any intruders and is protective so may also act to defend you and the home. It is a frequent barker though so will need training to stop when told to. It is a lively dog, it needs to be active and have jobs to do if it is not working all day on a farm. While it may be small and cute looking this not your typical lap dog. It might want to cuddle and be affectionate at times, but that is not all it will be. It is versatile, loyal and sometimes it can be intense. It is possessive of things it views as its own and is inquisitive about everything.

Around strangers it is reserved and can even be suspicious so socialization is essential. It is always ready for an adventure and will want to be a part of all family activity. They are devoted to their owners and family and playful and it is common that it may become more attached to one owner in particular. It needs owners who are going to be around though, ones who are stay at home parents, work from home, flexi hours or retired. It is cheerful and attentive and also quite observant.

Living with a Pumi

What will training look like?

A Pumi when with an experienced owner or trainer is easy and quick to learn. It is willing, enjoys working with you and eager to please. It is very motivated by reward based methods so keep it positive, praise and encourage it and use treats. Some fans of the breed would even go as far as to say it is the easiest dog breed there is to train! It is important though to be strong, confident, firm and consistent. If it thinks you are weak minded it will take advantage and become difficult and willful. Make sure it knows its place and that rules are always followed. Because of its nature it is a dog that can easily be taken through more advanced obedience training and into other areas too like agility. It is a good way to keep it working physically and engaged mentally. Make sure training sessions are short and fun so it does not get bored and do not use physical punishment or scolding in harsh tones. Training should include controlling its barking, its digging and its tendency to nip at heels to herd people and children.

As important as at least basic obedience training from an early age is socialization. This involved exposing them slowly to different people, animals, sounds, places and situations so that it gets used to them and known what appropriate reactions are. Being reserved around strangers, socialization helps to prevent the Pumi from becoming skittish or suspicious. When well socialized it grows into a happier and more confident dog owners can have more trust in.

How active is the Pumi?

The Pumi is a very active dog but being small this is easier to meet than for larger dogs. Still it needs owners who are fairly active themselves and who are committed to daily exercise and ensuring it gets the mental stimulation it needs. It is very agile and loves to play with you, Frisbee, fetch, catch and so on, as well as being a good partner when jogging, cycling or taking a long walk. It needs a couple of moderate (at least 20 minute) walks a day, play time, and regular trips to somewhere safe to go off leash like a dog park. It loves its toys and to run after things and with plenty of chances to vent its energy it will be happy to cuddle at the end of the day. It is not best suited to apartment living as a yard is best and it barks a lot, but if it has to with someone home to control the barking it can adapt. If there is a yard it will dig and it needs to be well fenced in.

Caring for the Pumi

Grooming needs

To keep it and its coat in good shape it needs regular grooming and care. It does not need a lot of trimming but it will need some and certainly does not need any stripping. Have a professional groomer take care of it if you prefer, it does grow constantly like a Poodles. It sheds a little and coats can become matted so make sure you brush regularly and it will help with debris, dirt, mats and some of the loose hair. If you let too many tangles and mats form and leave them there it can irritate their skin and cause sores. Bathe as needed but not too often as that can strip its coat of its natural oils. Do not blow dry the coat or it becomes a huge fluff ball instead of being curly.

Its nails will need trimming when they get too long so get yourself some proper dog nail clippers and learn how to if you are doing it yourself. Nails on dogs are not like people’s, they have nerves and blood vessels in part of their nails so if you cut too far down it hurts them a great deal and bleeds. Have your vet or groomer do it for you if you prefer. Brush its teeth regularly, at least two to three times a week for good tooth and gum health. Its ears need to be cleaned weekly by wiping the sections you can reach with a damp cloth or cotton ball and dog ear cleanser. Never insert anything into the ear as it can hurt them a great deal and do a lot of damage.

Feeding Time

The Pumi will need to be fed 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of a good quality dry dog food a day, split into at least two meals. It will also need access to fresh water at all times. How much it eats exactly can vary depending on its metabolism, activity, size, health and age.

How is the Pumi with other animals and children?

Pumik are good with children especially with socialization and when raised with them. It loves to play with them and together they can burn off some energy. It is affectionate towards them too but is best with children who are older rather than toddlers who tend to poke and tease which might lead to the Pumi nipping at them. It may also try to herd them by nipping at their heels and that must be stopped. Teach children what is okay and what is not in terms of touching and play and supervise when they are young. Typically it gets on well with other pets and other dogs that are in the family apart from rodents and small pets like that. Those tend to trigger its prey drive.

What Might Go Wrong?

Health Concerns

This has a life span of 12 to 13 years and is generally healthy but a few issues can include hip dysplasia, patellar luxation and eye problems.

Biting Statistics

In reports of dogs attacking people in Canada and the US over the last 35 years and doing bodily harm there is no mention of the Pumi. It is not a people aggressive breed and is therefore not a dog to be wary of in terms of chances of becoming aggressive. It is a rare breed in North America though so the odds are lower of it being involved in an incident like this. There are dogs that can be more prone to aggression but there is no breed that is 100% safe all the time. All dogs have that potential, just some more so, and some are built to be able to do more damage. With socialization, training, good exercise and mental stimulation and lots of love and attention you can lower the risks.

Your Pup’s Price Tag

A Pumi puppy is not easy to find and will cost a lot of money, around $1500 from a decent breeder of pet quality dogs. For show quality ones and if you are looking at top breeders the price can go even higher. When you are on a waiting list for uncommon dogs like this it can be tempting to look to other sources, puppy mills, back yard breeders, pet stores for example. Avoid giving money to such places, it keeps ignorant, neglectful and cruel people in the business of breeding dogs with no care or responsibility. If your aim is not to have a show dog you might consider looking into your local shelters and rescues to see if there is a companion there you can give a second home to. Adoption rates tend to run from $50 to $400 and medical needs are taken care of.

Once you have found the puppy or dog that you want it will need some items at home such as a collar and leash, crate, carrier, bowls and such. These will cost about $200. When it is home with you it will need to be taken to a vet as soon as possible for some tests, care and procedures. It will need a vet to give it a physical examination, it will need shots, deworming, micro chipping, spaying or neutering and these will cost about $270.

Then there will be yearly ongoing costs to being a dog owner. Its health care, just the basics like shots, flea and tick prevention, check ups and then pet insurance will cost about $460 a year. A good quality dry dog food and dog treats will cost about $145 a year. Then other miscellaneous costs like grooming, toys, basic training, license and miscellaneous items come to about $525. This means a yearly cost of somewhere around $1130.


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The Pumi is a small to medium sized dog, agile, active, happy and hard working. It is not that well known outside of Hungary but there it is valued as a companion and as a working breed. It is alert, smart and always ready to go. It needs to be kept busy and it is best in a home with no children or older ones, and with owners who are active. It does bark a lot so train it to stop on command is a must especially if you have close neighbors. Make sure you have the time too to give it attention and give it companionship.

Featured Image Credit: Jne Valokuvaus, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.

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